As temperatures fall and autumn colors begin to transform the New Haven landscape, the open-air Wooster Square Farmers Market offers an escape for Yale students and city residents alike.

Nestled on the corner of Chapel Street and DePalma Court, the farmers market is a brisk, 15-minute walk from Old Campus for Tommy Martin ’21, Jake Kalodner ’21 and Oona Holahan ’21, who welcome a Saturday morning spent sampling fresh apple cider donuts and purchasing locally grown produce to take back to campus. The trio said they traveled to New Haven’s Little Italy neighborhood for a change of scenery. Sitting on a bench in Wooster Square Park enjoying treats from across the street, they talked about the calm energy the farmers market exudes.

“Going to the farmers market is a very pleasant experience, even if you don’t buy anything,” Kalodner said. “There are dogs walking around, and you can talk to people. If you need some dog-petting stress relief, the farmers market is the place to go.”

Whether retreating from the stress of midterm season or just leaving behind the unrelenting pace of daily life at Yale, students at the Wooster Square Farmers Market have the opportunity to relax and enjoy one another’s company.

Side-by-side, Yalies and residents of New Haven’s Little Italy neighborhood sample cheese and feta pesto dip from Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm, admire fresh flowers from Four Root Farm and enjoy Sweet Madeline’s hot coffee and cider.

“Being there and around people gives you an energy, but not an energy that makes you feel like you need to tackle five problem sets at once,” Martin said. “You’re there to enjoy being around others.”

Holahan added that she enjoys leaving the “Yale Bubble.”

Every Saturday morning Wooster Square becomes a hub of social activity, bringing together couples young and old, families and even tourists.

The weekly farmers market is hosted by New Haven agriculture nonprofit CitySeed. Alyssa Krinsky, assistant market manager for CitySeed’s Wooster Square, Downtown and Fair Haven locations, said the organization takes pride in not only promoting sustainable and affordable agriculture, but also in the community that it fosters.

“It’s almost more of a social gathering than it is just a place to shop and get whatever,” said Krinsky. “Everybody knows everybody. They have their favorite vendors they go to, they have the friends that they’ve made over the years of the vendors and of fellow customers.”

On a typical day, Krinsky said, the Wooster Square Farmers Market sees between 1,100 and 1,200 patrons, a considerable amount of foot traffic for a market of about 30 vendors.

Jessica Hazen, founder of The Soup Girl restaurant, said she has built relationships over her six years at the market that have allowed her to collect the necessary clientele to launch her brick-and-mortar retail location.

“It all started at the farmers market,” she said. “You know the customers, you know which soups they like. It’s fun watching couples come through that have babies and then you see them grow year by year.”

June Rhee, a New Haven parent, said she enjoys purchasing pretzel rolls for her daughter and fresh bread and fruit for herself.

“It’s our little weekend routine,” said Rhee, husband and toddler by her side, adding that Wooster Square is a particularly good location for families as it is close to the park’s playground.

Of course, in addition to providing Yale students the opportunity to interact with the New Haven community, the farmers market celebrates the local food system and regional farmers. When Yalies, their professors and New Haven families grab a meal and weekly grocery items from Wooster Square, they can enjoy their purchases knowing that the pork, beef and poultry were ethically raised up to pasture, solely grass-fed and organic.

A trip to the farmers market might cost more than a trip to Stop & Shop. But at conventional supermarkets, farms receive only 19 cents of every dollar spent, according to the Yale Sustainable Food Program. Shopping at Wooster Square, buyers can be sure that local producers receive every penny.

CitySeed’s Wooster Square Farmers Market runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Starting in mid-January it will be held at the Metropolitan Business Academy.

Julianna Lai | julianna.lai@yale.edu